Sixteen Prairie Stories
Debuts Sunday, March 16, 2014
Written, produced and directed by Reid Dickie
AUDIO: one blast of a steam train whistle
“I don’t like trains.”
AUDIO: another blast of the whistle
“Never have. I was born on a train but it was a rude and crude way to come into the world. It surely was.”
Strange births and strange deaths and the lives lived in between on the Canadian prairies.
Stirred by the forsaken tumbledown farmhouses and barns, rusting farm equipment and lonely places they abandoned to the prairie wind, the voices of the pioneers and their descendents tell their poignant tales.
Farm folk recall their struggles against the elements. Town folk recount interpersonal conflicts and complexities.
There is no music but for the lonesome prairie wind.
A beautiful dream of sadness and joy ensues.
PREMISE AND PRODUCTION
When you drive down a country road and see a lonesome old farmhouse, sun-baked and tumbling down or a busted-up half ton rusting away on a rise or an abandoned red barn, don’t you wonder what happened in those places? Maybe you even create stories about them.
“Tillie Sweet lived in this house. (SIGHS) Aw, me. Tillie came from the big city of London England where there is more land than sky. Just off the boat, she married Willaker Sweet. People round here called them Tillie and Willie.”
Winnipeg writer and video producer Reid Dickie found sixteen such places in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and let their stories arise in his imagination. The Lonesomes is the result!
“It’s life and death at play on the open prairie,” says Dickie. “Change is chronicled in personal events, measured by lifetimes. The stories tell of the desperate births of people, towns and ideas, of mystery, trickery, love, revenge and bizarre deaths, glimpses of the human condition that resonate deeply with people everywhere, city and country, town and farm.”
“Luke, our first born, was conceived in that truck. It was a hot day in late August and me and Mary were drivin’ home from seeing her parents about an hour away. We stopped for a pee by the road when a prairie storm come up with thunder and lightning. It rained hammers and nails. We couldn’t see to drive so we had wild sex in the steamed up truck by the side of the road.”
“Oh my, yes. That’s the barn where the thing happened that nobody talked about. I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Dickie has written and blogged about Manitoba heritage for over ten years. On the genesis of the project, he said, “This is a somewhat romantic extension of my research and writing about prairie history. The sixteen stories in
The Lonesomes span more than a century of history, roughly 1890 to 2005, from pioneers opening the harsh prairie to second and third generations living complex lives in small towns and villages.”
Simple but striking prairie images abet the richly-textured stories, some based on actual events, most fictional. Says Dickie, “The Lonesomes is a place where rusty old farm machinery suddenly spouts poetry, where the blue vastness of the prairie sky frightens a woman to death, a place where an old barn is recalled as the scene of an unsolved mystery, where a defeated small-town mayor sheepishly tells his odorous story and where two retired telephone operators have a chance encounter with life-changing results.”
“Oh, Mary. For some unknown reason, life is cheap out here on the prairie. It comes and goes in a flash. Very often, too often, I just have to stand by and let the Lord do his work. That’s all I can do for your boy is stand by. And pray. Please know, Mary, that you and your family will be in my prayers tonight. How are your other children feeling?”
Dickie, who grew up in the western Manitoba town of Shoal Lake, hired professional actors to voice the roles and recorded them at state-of-the-art Video Pool Studios in Winnipeg. “The audio is exceptional thanks to Michel Germain, an extraordinary engineer,” says Dickie. “All the actors brought their best game to The Lonesomes.”
Shot in HD digital, visually The Lonesomes ranges from still life to montage to live action. Says Dickie, “The images are simple; the raw, explicit stories blow through them like the restless prairie wind.”
(SLIGHTLY UNDER HER BREATH) “Remember Lil? We usta have the best gossip in town, didn’t we?” (DORT LAUGHS NERVOUSLY)
“Always the best. If you wanted to know who was pregnant and shouldn’ta been, ask Lil or Dort. If you wanted to know whose business was about to go tits up, ask the phone gals. If you wanted to find out who gambled and/or drank too much, which men liked boys better than girls, and vice versa, who really stole the church statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ask the busiest bodies in town.”
“It was quite a burden, bearing all that knowledge, wasn’t it Lil?”
Written, produced and directed by Dickie, the sixteen stories in the 45-minute video range in length from one to five minutes.
Starting Sunday, March 16, 2014, The Lonesomes will be available on YouTube, one new story every day for sixteen days. Offering a peek into Dickie’s creative process, each story will be accompanied by its script, character backstory and location information. On March 31, the entire video will be available on YouTube. Follow The Lonesomes at http://www.readreidread.com
The Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories
Written, Produced and Directed by
Running time: 45:00
Original format: HD digital
Voices: Steve Black, Duane Braun, Troy Buschman, Reid Dickie, Mitchell Johnston, Borys Kozak, Carol Anne Miller, Nora Nordin-Fredette, Liz Olson, Allan Palmer, Chris Scholl, Dennis Scullard, Tannis Zimmer
Choir: Troy Buschman, Reid Dickie, Garcea Diehl, Liz Olson, Chris Scholl, Tannis Zimmer
Video Pool, Winnipeg
12 in Manitoba
4 in Saskatchewan
For their cooperation and encouragement, Reid Dickie extends special thanks to Kevin Uddenberg, Kenny Boyce, Terry Lewycky, Vonda Bos, Rick Fisher, Prairie Dog Central.
A Be Happy Production
© Reid Dickie 2012